Posted on 26 March 2017 by admin
The Big Ten Network struck television programming gold, scheduling the broadcast of a rare (if not unprecedented) Saturday afternoon College Men’s Gymnastics doubleheader. Both meets were highly entertaining, especially the night cap. It was a perfect showcase for NCAA Men’s Gymnastics.
Starting with the nightcap, one of the top two meets of the year took place in Lincoln, NE. It was quite a contrast to the two teams’ low-scoring contest in early February. Minnesota (426.95) and Nebraska (425.55) had a memorable slugfest, as both teams became the third and fourth members of the 425 Club. They now own the two highest team scores in the Big 10. The wild, high-scoring shootout was closely contested the entire six rotations. Both teams set new season scoring standards — Minnesota on four events and Nebraska on five events. Numerous individual season highs were set.
The Gophers started rewriting their record book in rotation two on FX, posting all five scores of at least 14.25, led by Zach Liebler (14.80). They continued on VT, smashing their previous high by a half point. Joel Gagnon (14.85) led that assault, which had all five scores of at least 14.60. Event winner Justin Karstadt (14.70) was the top man in the record-setting SR rotation. Minnesota destroyed their previous HB standard by over 3 points (71.60), led by event winner Gagnon (14.65). Karstadt added another event title with the top score on PB (14.60). Karstadt became just the fourth gymnast to score at least 87 in the AA this season (87.05).
Coach Mike Burns said during the meet that his team came into the contest with a mindset of making a statement of being prime contenders for the Big 10 team title. Well, if fans weren’t already thinking that, they certainly are now. Very encouraging for the Gophers is having Zach Liebler back at close to full strength. He hit 14.80 on FX for the second straight week, adding a 14.75 on VT. Gagnon had an outstanding 14.65 four-event average, and Vitali Kan was also stellar on four events (14.30 avg.). Karstadt has been the team’s most valuable asset all season, and he just keeps getting better. This team is starting to peak at the right time.
Also peaking is Nebraska, who took team titles on PH (69.45) and PB (70.80) The Huskers set new season standards on FX (72.55), SR (69.85), VT (72.50), PB (70.80) and HB (70.40). Event winners were Austin Epperson (FX-14.85), Antonio Castro (PH-14.90) and Anton Stephenson (VT-15.05). Chris Stephenson set a new high in the AA (83.90), while his brother had a 14.48 five-event average. Also putting up significant numbers were Epperson (14.30 avg. on 3 events) and Daniel Leal (14.25 avg. on 3 events). The Huskers are also aiming to make a big impact at the Big 10 Championships in two weeks.
Penn State (420.40) and Iowa (414.00) kicked off Saturday’s televised twin bill with some high scoring antics of their own. The Nittany Lions became the season’s seventh team to hit for 420, exceeding their previous high by almost 3 points, and setting new team highs on PH (72.35) and PB (70.95). They cruised to their final home win by winning on five of six team events. led by double event winner Dom DiFulvio (SR-14.75, VT-14.45). Stephen Nedoroscik and Leroy Clarke shared the win on PH (14.60), and Wyatt Tyndall got the victory on PB (14.55). Freshman Andrew Herrador (FX-14.45) and Cory Paterson (HB-14.05) were individual event winners for Iowa, while Andrew Botto (80.85) got the win in the AA over Penn State freshman Sam Zakutney (80.50). Botto competed AA for the eleventh time this season!
The weekend began with four teams hitting for 420-plus, and it ended with seven! Now there are four teams in the 425 Club. Great weekend!
The battle between #3 Ohio State (417.35) and host Illinois (415.25) lived up to its billing. The Illini led after four rotations, with only .05 separating the two teams. The Buckeyes came from behind in the final two rotations to secure the big road victory. Illinois scored 70-plus on four events, but the bane of their evening proved to be dismal outings on PH (67.35) and PB (65.85), and that provided Ohio State with all they needed to prevail. The Buckeyes, with their big guns returning to form, are aiming to challenge Oklahoma and Stanford.
Senior National Team member Sean Melton pumped out some big numbers for the Buckeyes, hitting for a 14.49 five-event average. His 15.20 on SR shows he has returned to last season’s form on that event, tying for the second best score in the nation. Alec Yoder continued his quest to be the best on PH (15.10), and appears to be well on his way to returning to AA competition with his 14.67 three-event average. The team’s workhorse this season, Jake Martin, put in another valuable effort in the AA (80.90), earning a nice score despite his miscues on FX (11.05).
The Illini won three individual titles, sparked by freshman Sebastian Quiana’s second win of the season. Quiana continues to rise in the rankings, easily remaining the nation’s top freshman on FX (14.95). Chandler Eggleston is successfully coming back from injury, tying for the VT title (14.75) with freshman Jacob Light. Tyson Bull won another title on HB (14.75) to retain his number two ranking on that event. Overall, Illinois split the team event titles with the Buckeyes.
Friday night’s Ohio State-Illinois meet was also televised by BTN. Including last Monday night’s Nebraska-Iowa matchup, BTN televised four meets in less than a week!
Host Michigan (414.95) and UIC (368.60) ended their respective regular season schedules in a Saturday afternoon contest. The surging Wolverines improved their previous team high by well over 7 points, keyed by new team event highs on FX (71.40), PH (68.50) and VT (72.35). Triple event winner Anthony McCallum (FX-14.45, VT-14.85, T1st-PB-13.90), Samuel Su (PH-13.90), Ryan Dunning (SR-14.10), Jonathan Chin (T1st-PB-13.90) and Marty Strech (HB-14.10) led the Michigan attack. Emyre Cole also had a great day, winning the AA (83.10) with a season best and placing 2nd on VT (14.70). Top scorers for the Flames were Satchel Hudson (FX-12.95, VT-13.20), Chris Root (PH-13.10), Steen Haugsted (SR-13.20), Asad Jooma (VT-13.75) and Victor Bello (VT-13.45).
Air Force (396.95) won their eighth straight USAG Collegiate Championships team title over William & Mary (388.40), Navy (379.70) and Springfield (373.85). Arizona State (383.65) was again victorious in the Club Division over Washington (381.25), Temple (364.75) and SoCal United (341.50). Tim Wang won his second consecutive AA title (82.90) to lead the Falcons’ winning effort. Washington’s Nathan Tsuji was the top AAer (78.20) in the Club Division. Top event finishers in both Collegiate and Club divisions advanced to Saturday night’s event finals.
Wang added his third straight USAG PH crown (14.10) to his big weekend. Other event winners included Arizona State’s double winner Riley Ward (FX-14.65, SR-13.90), Navy’s Lucas Beltran (VT-14.75), William & Mary’s Robert Meyer (PB-14.30) and Navy’s Ben Provost (HB-13.35). The top six finishers on each event earned All-American honors.